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of the Senate Human Services Committee, to influence Tarrant County judges virtually all Republicans on the question of the admissibility of D.H.S. reports. Friend has filed identical motions to quash surveyor reports in three of the five cases. Harris has appeared in court to argue on behalf of the motion in each case. Senator Harris appears to have made the desired impression. Take the case of Peter Trevilio, Jr., who is suing the Westside Care Center of Fort Worth for medical malpractice. Harris appeared at the hearing in early October, where he sat quietly while Gail Friend and Trevino’s attorney, Kerry Collins, sparred over the admissibility of D.H.S. survey reports. When Harris finally rose to speak, it was on behalf of the Texas Legislature. “When we start getting into questions of whether or not it was the intent of the Legislature to waive this privilege … we very specifically did not repeal that statute on privilege…. And I feel I serve on the Health Committee, and I feel very strongly this needs to be raised with the Court,” Harris told the judge, according to the hearing transcript. Shortly thereafter, the judge granted Friend’s motion to strike the records. A few days later, the judge reversed himself, but Friend promptly appealed the ruling, eventually taking it to the Second District Court of Appeals. The appeals court rejected her appeal, but the overall effect was to delay the proceedings for almost six months. An appearance by Harris in another case, Donna Pack, et al. v. Watson Nursing Home, has resulted in the D.H.S. records being struck in that case as well. Pack’s attorney Bernard Suchocki is currently preparing for a rehearing on the motion. Harris’ legislative continuances have proved useful, too. The plaintiff in one of the cases, Judy McClendon v. Jackson Square Nursing Home, elected to settle rather than wait until July for Harris to be ready to continue the case. According to the plaintiff’s attorney, Dana Huffman, some of her clients had health considerations which factored into the decision not to wait out the delay. Gail Friend is described by one colleague as an “old-school, Louisiana-style, whatever-it-takes-to-get-it-done kind of attorney.” She vehemently denies that Chris Harris was brought on solely to obtain continuances, and Harris points out that he was brought on board in each case well before the session began. Nevertheless, the question persists whether Harris has “participated actively” in the cases. For example, in the Pack case, Harris requested and received a legislative continuance, although he did not participate in any of the depositions taken. His primary contribution was to speak in support of the motion to quash D.H.S. reports, although Gail Friend was present for the hearing and actually argued the motion. Friend also said she was the one who prepared the arguments for the lengthy motion, not Han -is. Harris says he participated in the depositions “in some of the cases,” although he could not recall in how many cases he was currently involved. Asked about Harris’ specific contributions to the cases, Friend replied, “I have no idea and I can’t remember. If I want him there, he’s there. He’s involved in the cases as much as he needs to be.” After obtaining a postponed trial date in the Pack case, Harris wrote the judge on the eve of a scheduled hearing, explaining that he was out of town and asking for a postponement so that he could attend the hearing. Harris was in Las Vegas, watching his son compete in a rodeo championship. On the floor of the Senate this session, Harris went one step further on behalf of his clients. On March 18, prior to Senate debate on an assisted living center regulation bill \(proposed by Fort Worth written broadly enough to apply to nursing homes as well that would have made survey reports inadmissible in civil suits against assisted living centers. The response from his colleagues was less than enthusiastic. According to one Senate insider who asked not to be named, “Several senators were extremely concerned about Senator Harris’ conflict of interest, because it’s widely known that the Senator represents nursing homes and has filed a number of motions in court.” In some cases those motions were still pending meaning that in effect, Harris was using his legislative continuance privilege to go to Austin to try to change the very law on which his cases hinged. Harris shelved his amendment and had Senator Robert Resident 0 I had a fetes catheter and I wad totally dependent on staff to met tier needs. The ft:day was observed I wder the resident ,* tag which I prevented adequate drainage end the. resident was tying in a drying yeltow dirvid Of urine. There was a Stage II Pressure 44r. on her right hip which was 045cma in site. lier coccyx was dint/did and the urine wee cloudy with e large amount of white sediment. The facility staff stated that the rtsfd4ntis catheter must be From a D.H.S. survey report quashed in court by Senator Harris Duncan of Lubbock offer a face-saving alternative amendment, which left the reports admissible, but required they be admitted in accordance with the Texas Rules of Evidence, a caveat ostensibly aimed at curbing the use of irrelevant reports strictly for inflammathe language in S.B. 190 already requires that the Rules of Evidence be applied, so Duncan’s amendment does little more than recodify existing law. Although Harris now claims he is satisfied with Duncan’s alternative, it is widely rumored that he will find another vehicle for his own amendment before the end of the session. Harris told the Observer he sees no conflict of interest in his behind-the-scenes efforts in the Senate. “We are a citizen Legislature. What, am I not supposed to do any [legislation] in the family trade because I do a high volume of divorce law?” Harris asked. “This is not some sinister deal. It’s very simple: to me there is a major problem in the law, and I have raised that question to my colleagues.” He went on to imply that the controversy is motivated by plaintiffs’ attorneys: “And the fact that some lawyers’ cash cow might get disrupted is no excuse for us not to have good government.” Harris insists that despite S.B. 190, the Legislature never intended to make the D.H.S. reports admissible in a private civil trial, but only for the Attorney General’s use in revoking nursing home licenses. iftskint*” APRIL 16, 1999 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9